I’ve found that the “famous” verses people tend to memorize are usually surrounded by other verses (full of rich truth) that aren’t as well-known. Read in context, these favorite/famous verses gain even deeper meaning. For example, Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'”. Less well-known is verse 13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Spoken to a people in exile, these verses are a reminder 1. that God has good plans, which aren’t always obvious when we look at our surroundings, and 2. to understand and trust those plans we must seek Him with all our heart. Or, another favorite, Micah 6:8 says, “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” This passage hits me square between the eyes when I go back to verse 3, where God asks, “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me.” So often I create my own mental and spiritual burdens…worrying unduly, overworking myself, spreading time and energy thinly, then coming to God grumpily exhausted. How has He burdened me? He hasn’t! What does he actually require of me? – to act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with Him.
That being said, when I was asked to paint Philippians 4:13 for a friend, I couldn’t leave out the verse before it. Verse 12 states: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance.” Then comes the well-known verse 13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” What did Paul learn in his good times and bad years…his times of shipwreck, prison, flogging, AND times of fellowship, joy, material wealth? He learned that the secret of being content is relying on Christ. He gives us the strength we need to face any and every circumstance.
I knew I wanted to do this piece in a square format. I started by measuring out my background and designing the lettering to space evenly, to create a box of text from the words in verse 12. Then I took a separate square sheet and planned out verse 13, starting with my focal point words: “Christ” and “Strength”, and designing the rest of the script around them. I traced the background text onto watercolor paper and painted in a pale hue. Watercolors are translucent, so any color I used in the background would affect the foreground colors laid over it. With the background complete and dry, I lightly traced the foreground text. Colors for the foreground needed to stay basically analogous (red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green). Even in this range, I had to be careful because red-violet and yellow-green are complements…which means that if one mixes with the other it turns brown. But I know the rules and tools of color, so for the most part I could play and have fun at this point in the painting!
As a side note, by the time I finished this painting, I was thoroughly exhausted. The truth of the verse was lived out in that I had to rely on Christ’s strength even to complete this piece by the deadline!